I really enjoyed Graceless I and am pleased at the news there will be a Graceless IV. Meanwhile I am listening to the earlier series (and enjoyed their opener for Worlds of Big Finish), so how did I find 2011’s December release of Graceless II? Did it hit the same levels as the high standard reached in the first series?
Part One: The Line
The moment we stop, the moment we let the past catch up with us… We’re done for
Everything starts idyllic (or as close as it can). Abby (Ciara Janson), Zara (Laura Doddington), Marek (Fraser James) and Joy are on the run, never staying to long in any place or time, trying to do good. They arrive on Marek’s home world and we get his back story in great detail. If that wasn’t enough, they meet Manchu Golding (Derek Griffiths) who holds great power and wants Abby and Zara to change history.
[pullquote]History is not lightly to be meddled with[/pullquote]
History is not lightly to be meddled with, and when it touches those they love, their own timeline can become unstuck. For the Tracer Twins, there are consequences. Suffice it to say all does not end well for the demi-god sisters.
Part Two: The Flood
There goes the neighbourhood
Desperate for sanctuary and a place to re-group and call home, perhaps, Abby and Zara arrive on a new world in the middle of the worse rain in recorded (human history). They struggle to help defend a museum from the rising waters, and their efforts are barely enough when strange creatures emerge from the deeps and people start to vanish.
Speed reading the museum library helps but little as the sisters themselves fall victim to the creatures before they can find a way to help. Not only is this a gripping tale but the performances of the support (including Michael Cochrane as museum curator Brondle) are rock solid. The usual credit to Lisa Bowerman’s direction. The plot in many ways echoes the Series I story The Fog but not so as to undermine the power of this story.
Part Three: The Dark
When you’re together, you two can do anything
To make matters more complicated, there is little food, no real hope of surviving the fierce storms and Abby is falling for Joy’s son. The group struggle against the environment as Abby and Zara confront their own history — in keeping a low profile their many good deeds have gone unrecorded and they are known only for the terrible things they have done.
[pullquote]this is all excellent[/pullquote]
Of course there is a twist, and an astute listener may well guess some of the secrets and the parallels to the final story of Series I, but don’t be put off, this is all excellent.
As solid as Series I, the actors can not put a foot wrong (nor the writer / director). The soundscape has changed, maybe a little less Pink Floyd / The Wall than last time but not altered so as to feel incongruous. The middle story is so strong the actors beg in the extras to come back in the next set and even John Banks fails to stand out when so many are performing at the top of their game
Simon keeps up the pace with the sisters still powerful, yet very human and able to great good for everyone except themselves. They are growing but still young in many ways. The lines between them are blurring and they are far less polar opposites than they had been but still distinct.
The three stories make a set without sounding forced together and the twists / endings are all credible. Roll on Series III!